Retired Indian cricket team batsman Gautam Gambhir shifted his allegiance to politics when he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in New Delhi on Friday. He was inducted in the presence of Union Ministers Arun Jaitley and Ravi Shankar Prasad and will be fielded from the New Delhi constituency, which was won by the BJP’s Minakshi Lekhi in 2014.
Gambhir played a pivotal role in India’s historic victories in the inaugural edition of ICC World T20 and also during the ICC World Cup 2011, he played match-winning knocks of 75 (against Pakistan) and 97 (against Sri Lanka) which helped the men in blue to lift the world titles.
Overall, Gambhir played 58 Tests, scoring 4154 runs, at an average of 41.95, including nine centuries and 22 fifties. He played 147 ODIs, scoring 5238 runs at an average of 39.68 and a strike-rate of 85.25.
The 37-year-old’s cricketing career can be judged from the fact that he achieved the numero uno rankings in cricket’s most traditional format (Test cricket) in 2009. He was also ranked No.1 T20I batsman in the world in 2007. While in ODIs, Gambhir achieved his career-best 8th rank in the limited-overs format.
Gambhir was part of the Indian team that ascended to the No.1 spot in Test cricket in 2009 under the leadership of MS Dhoni. His rich vein of form in 2008 and 2009 meant he also earned the ICC Test Player of the Year award for 2009.
The list of cricketers joining politics after retirement is long but there are many who excelled and tasted success. While there are a few who tasted failures in this altogether different field they ventured into.
Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi:
Pataudi, a former Indian skipper, was among the first of the cricketers who joined politics and contested polls. Regarded as one of India’s greatest cricket captains, the nawab contested two Lok Sabha polls and tasted defeat.
First he contested from Bhiwani in Haryana and was defeated by former Chief Minister Bansi Lal. The next he contested from Bhopal on a Congress ticket in 1991. Despite the fact that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and cricket World Cup winner team captain Kapil Dev campaigned for him, he eventually lost the poll. He could not taste success in this other field. Following these defeats, Pataudi chose not to stay put on the sticky wicket of politics and bid adieu.
The stylish Hyderabadi batsman began his political innings in 2009 when he joined Congress. Azharuddin won the general elections in 2009 from Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh to become an MP. The former India captain was, however, routed in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Moradabad constituency. Azharuddin was an elegant middle-order batsman and led the Indian team in 47 Tests during 1990s. However, he was banned by the BCCI for life after being involved in a match-fixing scandal in 2000. He has disclosed his intention to contest 2019 elections from Secunderabad parliamentary constituency in Telangana.
Navjot Singh Sidhu:
A minister in Punjab government, Sidhu started his political career by contesting the Lok Sabha elections in 2004 on a BJP ticket. In February 2007, he again contested the Lok Sabha bye-election from Amritsar and emerged victorious. Sidhu, who featured in 51 Tests and 136 ODIs for India, has donned several hats in his political career. In 2014, the BJP denied him a ticket and gave the seat to the party’s key strategist Arun Jaitley. He was defeated by Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amrinder Singh. In 2016, he was given the Rajya Sabha ticket but he resigned.
He along with Pargat Singh and Bains brothers formed a new political front — Aawaaz-e-Punjab — claiming to fight against those working against Punjab. In January 2017, Sidhu joined Congress. Contesting from Amritsar East in the 2017 Punjab Assembly elections, he won by a margin of 42,809 votes. He was appointed to the Punjab cabinet.
The former all-rounder, who was part of the 1983 World Cup-winning squad, represented the BJP and won from Bihar’s Darbhanga constituency thrice. In February 2019, he joined the Congress. Son of former Chief Minister of Bihar Bhagwat Jha Azad, Kirti Azad was an aggressive right-hand batsman and a quickish off-spinner. He was previously an MLA from Delhi’s Gole Market constituency.
Chetan Chauhan, who was Sunil Gavaskar’s opening partner in Tests, has twice been a Member of Parliament from Amroha constituency in Uttar Pradesh. He retired from international cricket after scoring 2,000 test runs without any century. After his cricket career finished in 1981 he moved into politics, joining the Bharatiya Janata Party. He is serving as Minister for Youth and Sports in Uttar Pradesh.
Mohammad Kaif, who featured in 125 ODIs and 13 Tests between 2000 and 2006, joined Congress and contested 2014 Lok Sabha election from Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh. He was defeated by BJP’s Keshav Prasad Maurya, who is Deputy Chief Minister in the state. He is regarded as one of the best fielders in the Indian cricket team owing to his great athletic and throwing skills. He retired from all formats of cricket on July 13, 2018.
Besides, the Indian cricketers, former cricket captains Imran Khan (Pakistan), Arjun Ranatunga and Sanath Jayasuriya (Sri Lanka) and captain of Bangladesh cricket team Mashrafe Murtaza tasted victories in politics.
He is at present the most prominent face of a cricketer-turned-politician. The former Pakistan captain was last year elected the country’s Prime Minister. Imran, who led Pakistan to its only World Cup title in 1992, last July won the most seats in the elections for his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party.
Arguably Sri Lanka’s greatest captain-ever, Arjuna Ranatunga joined politics after retiring and has been a Member of the Parliament of Sri Lanka for Gampaha constituency. In 2015, he was appointed as the Minister of Ports and Shipping having earlier held the post of Sri Lanka’s Deputy Minister for Tourism.
Ranatunga’s 1996 World Cup-winning team-mate and one of the most devastating openers that cricket has seen, Sanath Jayasuriya was elected as Member of Parliament from his native Matara district for one full term and has served as the Deputy Union Minister of postal services and later as the Deputy Union Minister of Local Government and Rural Development under president.
He has registered a landslide victory in the 11th general elections in Bangladesh. He became the first active cricketer in Bangladesh to be elected as a lawmaker. Mortaza, an Awami League candidate for Narail-2 constituency, got 2,74,418 votes while his rival Jatiya Oikya Front alliance nominee Fariduzzaman Farhad received 8,006 votes.